Letter #124

Content Warnings: Academic stress, depression, self-deprecation, worthlessness


Being an adult is precarious. When I was in school, grades and internships were the defining metric of my success. It was easy to feel good about myself when I was ahead based on how I was doing academically, whether I “knew” myself, how much time I put into my passions, because my peers were more or less on the same boat.


Now I have friends who are orbiting stars in different galaxies. Some are living their dreams, some are continuing school, some are starting businesses, and some are still figuring out what they want in life. And now, I don’t know where I stand. Some days I feel worthless, guilty that all that time and effort was put into this outcome. Some days I feel proud. I built my own life in a foreign country with no family. At least I’m surviving.


But it takes everything to not obsessively compare myself to others, assess the number of achievements. I’ve had to decide whether I’m worthy of my comforts. It’s difficult to feel like I’m enough after years of pushing myself to the edge to do the most, and be the best, and try the hardest. After years of depression and self-destructive behavior to cope with feeling like a waste of space because I wasn’t good at STEM subjects in an academically prioritized culture, I became obsessed with grades. Am I doing good, or just okay, or actually really terrible?  What grade would I receive for the life I’ve created?


Sometimes I have to remind myself it doesn’t matter. The grade is supposed to be for me, for someone to tell me what I’m doing right and what I can improve. And I already know those things about myself. If I had a D in confidence in high school, I’ve got a B in it now based on how I reply to emails and how much I put my needs first. And I can seek an A by being more honest and authentic. It doesn’t matter. The way I feel when I wake up in the morning, the people I surround myself with, the things I do at my desk for work and leisure are the narrative, and I should be living in it instead of trying to progress it. I created this story, and I deserve credit for it. And nobody is going to give me that besides myself.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *